On Thursday, March 4 2010 I was named the North Carolina Technology Educator of the Year as awarded by the North Carolina Technology in Education Society. The presentation was made at the Raleigh Convention Center at the Keynote Luncheon featuring, famed educator Ron Clark. The award presentation was given by my colleague and friend Julie LaChance, who won the award last year. Award winners were not given time to speak due to time constraints, so here are my remarks which would have been delivered. They are words that need to be said.
I've never been very good at receiving recognition, but a wise person recently told me I should learn to take compliments by just saying Thank-you. So, thank-you to the NCTIES Board for this honor. I am humbled to be included in this community of talented educators, and in many ways this just means I'm getting started.
I must thank Julie LaChance for nominating me. She saw things in me I didn't see in myself, and I'm honored to call her a professional colleague, and also a friend.
There's a bit of irony in me receiving this award. After 10 years in the regular classroom I was burned out and almost decidedly getting out of education. So technology, and my shift to educational technology is the reason I'm still in education today. In short - it revitalized me and saved my career.
After I learned instructional technology was where I was meant to be I set out to be the best I could. I've been driven to learn a little more every day, collaborate within my school, district, state, and globally a little more each year. My push is to provide the richest learning experiences for our students, because ultimately that's when they are fully engaged learners.
What I've been able to achieve has truly been a collaborative effort. I had my role, but none of the things I have attempted would have occurred without genuine support. Thank-you Dr. Betty Weycker and Kevin Sherrill for your ongoing leadership and guidance. Our ideas and dreams were also made possible because of the support of our district's Director of Instructional Technology Marlo Gaddis and her staff.
Marlo has been a source of inspiration, an accomplished professional, and a loyal friend. Thank-you for your undying support, expertise, and willingness to start something unlike anything our district had ever attempted. Colleen, Melisssa, Delea, Emory, Thelma, Evan, Brian, April and Angie - I appreciate you and know you're always there for me.
I want to thank my colleagues at my previous school - Bolton Elementary, for sharing my vision, staying the course, and signing on to be trailblazers with our initiative -Teach21.
I am now very blessed to work with a truly outstanding group of educators at my current school - Kimmel Farm Elementary. They have been fearless in learning and implementing technology, and working to build a special learning community in a brand new school. Thank you to Carolyn Layton. I possibly would not be at Kimmel Farm without you. Thank-you to our Principal, Gaye Weatherman - who is a visionary in her own right. She has led us well, focusing on only two goals in our first year - technology integration and problem based learning.
My first grade teacher, Kathy Priddy, is also here to share this moment. We now work together at Kimmel Farm and I'm still learning from her.
In closing I want leave a thought and a challenge. When you are asked to compose your educational philosophy it often becomes nothing more than teacher-speak. It's taken years but I now hold true to my philosophy knowing it's a genuine belief. Learning is self-directed and social, and that means it must be connected - to other people. Most importantly learning must be relevant to the world in which our students live. Technology gives us the tools to bring together all those elements.
My challenge is to you. A colleague of mine recently asked me how I continue to stay so positive. My response - if you want to be an educational leader you must possess an unrelenting optimism. You're going to learn so much here in just two or three days and become energized. The ideas will always be there - on Nings, Twitter, on wikis. But if you take nothing else back with you from this conference take with you unrelenting optimism. Your colleagues will notice, it's infectious, and that will ultimately create the climate for positive and immeasurable change.
Sam Walker - Technology Facilitator